February 13th is the last school day before Valentine’s Day, so at home my kids and I are preparing their valentines on the evening of the 12th. Our family is recovering from a week-long illness, and I am fortunate that my mother-in-law took my kids to shop for loving characters of their choice earlier this week. I know she was thinking ahead for me by getting each kid a box of valentines that already had a matching tattoo in it. No need to add a piece of candy or some other small bonus with the card. Minimal work for the mom in a rush. Not that our valentines would have been picked out any differently if there had been no illness in our home and I had purchased them myself – we are consistent in our skill to patiently wait until the deadline to complete a task in our family. Actually, it’s only me who has the gift of patience. My husband is driven to accomplish tasks ahead of schedule. No need to focus on his weaknesses, though. Still, looking at the box, I felt comfort in knowing a class of completed valentines was just a step away.
My plan was to open a box for each of the kids, set them up on the table, and let them add their own special touch to each card. My son would write his name on his, and my daughter would place a sticker on hers. Simple and fast. Unfortunately, a visual scan of the actual contents of the box revealed there was much more prep work waiting just for me. All of the valentines had to be separated. All of the tattoos had to be cut apart. Then all of the tattoos had to gently eased into two not-as-precise-as-I-would-like slits on the valentine. Resisting my urge to abandon ship, I spent the next hour carefully placing all the tattoos inside each valentine, narrowly avoiding ruining each one as the clear paper on top threatened to separate from the tattoo is was protecting. Whew!
Finally it was time to call in the kids to do their part. I figured my daughter would have an easy enough time placing one heart sticker on each card and that my son might get frustrated with having to write his name somany times. Should I hover and watch? What if they mess up the tattoos? What if my son writes in the wrong place? What if my daughter takes everything apart? I decided to walk out of the room and let fate decide the designated destination for those notes of love.
Once I returned, I was surprised to find that my son had quickly created an organizational system to write his name on each card and and place it in a “completed” pile. My daughter, however, felt that rather than one heart sticker per card, she should decorate with eight to twelve heart stickers per card. She did run out of hearts, but I found some smiley face stickers for the other valentines. We survived!
For a family attempting to dodge all the crafty aspects of a holiday, we still managed to get rather involved. Perhaps the manufacturer’s of these “easy” cards are actually designing them with more work to keep people from cheating? It seems there’s cultural pressure to stop and give thought to the love and care that’s being expressed. Would it be easier to break out the construction paper and make our own cards? Could I find a quick and easy idea on Pinterest? Who knows? I’ll start thinking about ideas for my kids’ cards next year, the night before Valentine’s Day.